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Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Treasures from J. R. Miller

Treasures from J. R. Miller

Am I like Jesus — or not?

"
Jesus got up from supper, laid aside His robe, took a towel, and tied it around Himself. Next, He poured water into a basin and began to wash His disciples' feetand to dry them with the towel tied around Him." John 13:4-5
Serving is not an easy lesson to learn. But it is a lesson which we must learn — if ever we would become like our Master. Jesus did not come to be served — but to serve. He served to the uttermost, just as He loved to the uttermost. Any service that needed to be done for another — He did as naturally and as simply as He breathed! He loved people, and was interested in them and was ready always to be helpful to them. It never mattered what the service was, whether it was the saving of a soul, the curing of a grievous sickness, or washing feet — He did the least service — as graciously and as divinely as the greatest!
The washing of feet was the lowliest service any man could do for another. It was the work of the lowliest slave. Yet Jesus without hesitation, did this service for His own disciples. Thus He taught them that nothing anyone may ever need to have done by another — is unfit for the holiest hands. We begin to be like Christ— only when we begin to love others enough to serve them, regardless of the lowliness of the particular service.
One day a stranger entered an artist's studio in Milan. The artist was working on a painting of the head of Christ and appeared to take no notice of the stranger. At last he broke the silence, looked at the man and asked, "Sir, does it look like Jesus — or not?"
There is no surer test of the genuineness of Christian life — than in this matter of serving others. In serving others, we should inquire, "Am I like Jesus — or not?" We are too careful of our dignityWhen we see the Son of God washing His disciples' feet — we should be ashamed ever to ask whether anything another may need to have done — is too menial for us to do. A king may do the lowliest kindness to the poorest peasant in his realm — and his honor will only beenhanced by it.
"Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet — you also should wash one another's feet. For I have given you an example that you also should do, just as I have done for you." John 13:14, 15
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Our clumsy hands!

"I know that You can do all things; no plan of Yours can be thwarted!" Job 42:2

We cannot do what we desire to do. Many of our purposes are thwarted. We desire to do good and beautiful things, and we try — but our actual achievements fall far below our desires. Our clumsy hands cannot fashion the loveliness which our hearts dream of. Our faltering weakness cannot do the brave things our souls aspire to do. No artist ever paints on his canvas — all the beauty of his ideal. No singer ever expresses — all the music which burns within him as he sings. No eloquent orator ever utters — all that he feels as he pleads for truth or for justice.

So in all our life — we do only a little of what we strive to do. We set out in the morning with purposes of usefulness, of true living, of gentle-heartedness, of patience, of victoriousness; but in the evening we find only little fragments of these good intentions actually wrought out!
But God's plans and intentions are all carried out! No power can withstand Him — or frustrate His will. It was in this thought, that Job found peace in his long, sore trial: all things were in God's hands, and nothing could hinder His designs of love! Our God is infinitely strong. In all earthly confusions, strifes, and troubles — His hand moves, bringing good out of evil for those who trust in Him. He executes all His purposes of good. He is never hindered in blessing His children.

"I know that You can do all things; no plan of Yours can be thwarted!" Job 42:2
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God's threshing

"You will have tribulation in this world." John 16:33

The word tribulation is very suggestive. It comes from a root which means 'a flail'. The thresher uses the flail to beat the wheat sheaves, that he may separate the golden wheat from the chaff and straw.

Tribulation is God's threshing — not to destroy us, but to get what is good, heavenly, and spiritual in us — separated from what is wrong, earthly, and fleshly. Nothing less than blows of pain will do this. The golden wheat of goodness in us, is so closely wrapped up in the strong chaff of sin — that only the heavy flail of suffering can produce the separation!

Many of us would never enter the gates of pearl — were it not for this unwelcome messenger, pain! "We must go through many troubles to enter the kingdom of God!" Acts 14:22
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It is not easy to be a man!

Christ is more than a teacher. A teacher shows us lofty qualities and attainments — and then leaves us in hopeless weakness in the dust. But Christ is Helper, Friend, Savior — as well as Teacher. He shows us what true manliness is — and then comes into our life and inspires us to strive after the things which He commends; and then breathes His life into us to help us to be what He teaches us to be.

It is not easy to be a man — a true, noble, Christlike man. It means continual struggle, for enemies of manliness meet us at every step! Every inch of the way must be won in battle. It means constant restraint and repression of sin — for the 'old man' in us must be subdued and kept under control. It means constant, painful discipline — for the powers of nature are evil and unruly, and hard to tame and control. It means unending toil and self-denial — for we must climb ever upward, and the way is steep and rugged, and SELF must be trampled to death under our feet as we rise to higher life! It is hard to be a true man — for all the odds seem against us. But Christ lives, and He is Helper, Friend, and Guide — to every man who truly receives Him as Lord and Master.
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You say you want to be like Christ

"The Son of Man did not come to be served — but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many!" Matthew 20:28

The art of photography is now so perfect, that the whole picture of a large newspaper can be taken in miniature so small, as to be carried in a little pendant — and yet every letter and point be perfect.

Just so, the whole life of Christ is photographed in one little phrase, "not to be served — but to serve."
He came not to be served; if this had been His aim — He would never have left heaven's glory, where He lacked nothing, where angels praised Him and ministered unto Him. He came to serve. He went about doing good. He altogether forgot Himself. He served all He met — who would receive His service. At last He gave His life in uttermost service — giving it as a sin-atoning sacrifice for others. He came not to be served — but to serve.

You say you want to be like Christ. You ask Him to print His own image on your heart. Here, then is the image! It is no vague dream of perfection that we are to think of — when we ask to be made like Christ. The Catholic monks thought that they were becoming like Christ — when they went into the wilderness, awayfrom men, to live in cold cells. But that is not the what this picture suggests. "To serve" — that is the Christlike thing! Instead of fleeing away from the world — we are to live among men, to serve them, to seek to bless them, to do them good, to give our life for them!
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A needed book

"I have put my hope in Your Word."
  Psalm 119:81

So long as there are . . .
 tears and sorrows,
 and broken hearts,
 and crushed hopes,
 and human failures,
 and lives burdened and bowed down,
 and spirits sad and despairing —
so long will the Bible be a needed book.
It is full of inspiration, light, help and strength for earth's weary ones.

"The law of the LORD is perfect — reviving the soul.
 The statutes of the LORD are trustworthy — making wise the simple.
 The precepts of the LORD are right — giving joy to the heart.
 The commands of the LORD are radiant — giving light to the eyes.
 The fear of the LORD is pure — enduring forever.
 The ordinances of the LORD are sure and altogether righteous.
They are more desirable than gold — even the finest gold.
They are sweeter than honey — even honey dripping from the comb.
By them is Your servant warned; in keeping them there is great reward." 
  Psalm 19:7-11
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The grace of gentleness

"Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me — for I am gentle and humble in heart." Matthew 11:29

There are some Christians who seem never to have learned love's secret of gentleness. There is nothing that this sad, sorrowing, sinning world needs — more than gentleness; like that of Him of whom it is written, that He would not break a bruised reed. We need to pray for the grace of gentleness that we may walk softly among men, never hurting another life by harsh word or ungentle act.

"We were gentle among you, like a mother caring for her little children." 1 Thessalonians 2:7

"Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love." Ephesians 4:2
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Nursing a viper!

"Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. Because of these, the wrath of God is coming. You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived." Colossians 3:5-7

A new life in Christ calls for the utter destruction of these evils. It is a shameful list which Paul names. It makes us ashamed to think that such qualities may belong to us — or may nest in our heart! Who would have thought that any these vile things could exist in anyone who wears the human form! Yet many of these ugly things are found in each of us! Our hearts are naturally cages of unclean birds!

What does Paul tell us we should do with these unholy things? He says we are to put them to death. When we find any evil thing in ourselves, we must kill it, for it is not right for it to live. An uncompromising war should be waged against all evil. He who cherishes any impurity in himself — is nursing a viper which will sting him to death by and by!

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